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WASHINGTON (CNN) – President Obama says he wants to negotiate a peace settlement with the Taliban, the group in Afghanistan that harbored al Qaeda in the years leading up to 9/11. “So as we strengthen the Afghan government and security forces, America will join initiatives that reconcile the Afghan people, including the Taliban,” he said in his Wednesday evening White House address.
He then spelled out these conditions for such negotiations: “They must be led by the Afghan government, and those who want to be part of a peaceful Afghanistan must break from al Qaeda, abandon violence, and abide by the Afghan constitution.”
President Obama said he thought progress on this front can be made.
For my part, I am not so sure.
Even if the Taliban leadership were to break from al Qaeda and abandon violence - they certainly have not done that yet - I suspect they will never accept Article 22 of the Afghan constitution which says: “Any kind of discrimination and distinction between citizens of Afghanistan shall be forbidden. The citizens of Afghanistan, man and woman, have equal rights and duties before the law.”
All of us remember what life for women in Afghanistan was like before U.S. forces removed the Taliban from power after 9/11. Afghan women and girls now have rights they did not have before.
Based on what Afghan women must still endure in those areas under Taliban control, I have no reason to believe the Taliban have changed their views. I suspect the hard-core true believers in the Taliban probably never will.
I hope I’m wrong and the President is right.